Chicago Bounces Back; Baez and Two Bakers

I’m gonna try and crank out a quick entry, here. It’s been about a week, I think, since I blogged here. In that time, I’ve ripped a couple more vinyl records. Continuing in my Chicago collection, I ripped Chicago XIV (they can’t decide if they want to use Roman or Arabic numerals during this phase).
On this cover, their now famous logo is embedded in what appears to be a thumbprint. The album, itself, is said to have been their most unsuccessful release, commercially. I tend to agree. I’m sure the only reason I have this album is that I was a die-hard Chicago fan, and, hey, they released another album. It was released in 1980, and they were still suffering from the loss of Terry Kath. The short-time replacement, Donnie Dacus was no longer with the band, and a studio player named Chris Pinnick, chimed in, but was not a “member” of the band. It was also the last album that Chicago would do on the Columbia label. The album reached only number 71 on the Pop Albums chart, and the only single from the record, Thunder and Lightning (I don’t remember every hearing this song on the radio) reached only number 56 on the Pop charts. By all standards, it was a miserable failure. Here’s a youtube clip of Thunder and Lighting.

Oddly enough, when I searched for this song, this was the only clip that came up. Everything underneath it was actually video clips of thunderstorms in Chicago. 😀

Next up was Chicago 16 (back to Arabic…and XV was another “Greatest Hits” album…I still don’t buy those).
I suppose the logo featured on a microchip indicated the band’s decision to enter the eighties and start making use of more of the technology being offered in that decade. There is a new producer, and a new label, being Warner Brothers/Full Moon. There is also a new face in the band. Bill Champlin has arrived. His voice was closer to Terry Kath’s in timber, so he was a much needed addition to the group. All of the other original members are still there, though. This album was released in 1982, and did much better than the previous three albums. The first single, “Hard To Say I’m Sorry,” was released and hit number 1 on the Pop Singles chart! It was also released, along with it’s segue piece, “Get Away,” on the Adult Contemporary Charts and hit number 1. “Love Me Tomorrow” came out as the second single, but only reached 22 on the Pop Singles, but hit number 8 on the Adult Contemporary Charts. You see…Chicago’s fans from the sixties and seventies were growing up. Heh. There was a third single, “What You’re Missing,” that was released in 1983, but only hit 81 on the Pop Charts. Nevertheless, Chicago had gained a second wind, which would be fully realized with their next album (I’m halfway through ripping that one…sorry).
I found a youtube clip of a live recording of “Hard To Say I’m Sorry.”

My latest adventures from the list of 1000 Recordings To Hear Before You Die began with a folk legend.

Yes, it’s Joan Baez. The caption for this article is, “The Arrival of A Subtle Folk Voice.” And listening to his, her first recording, released in 1960 on Vanguard records, helps me understand why she was included on the list of 100 greatest guitar players, by Rolling Stone Magazine. (There is nothing on earth that could make me understand why Neil Young is on said list.) This recording consists of Baez’s take on 15 traditional folk songs (the digital re-release in 2001 includes a sixteenth track, “Girl of Constant Sorrow.” Her voice is powerful, and her guitar playing is captivating in this album. Her rendition of “House of the Rising Sun” is closer, from what I can tell, to the original version of the song, than the more popular version by The Animals. There is also a wonderful version of “All My Trials,” which I first heard by Peter, Paul, and Mary. (I wonder if they are on this list…I’m not looking ahead.) Then, she has a version of “Wildwood Flower,” which I have played for years on the guitar, but never knew it had words! It’s actually a sad song. Tom Moon lists “East Virginia,” “House of the Rising Sun,” “Mary Hamilton,” “John Riley,” and “I Know You Rider” as key tracks. I would include “All My Sorrows” in my list. I listened to this album twice. Here’s a youtube clip of her version of “House of the Rising Sun,” with some beautiful photography work in the video.

Next up is, perhaps another kind of legend. I’m still not sure what “Quiet Storm” refers to, but this lady seems to have it down.

“Rapture” is Anita Baker’s major label debut. It was released in 1986 on Elektra records. It only has eight tracks on it, but it’s enough. Or maybe it isn’t. Thinking back to last week’s “R&B” entry, Erykah Badu, there is no comparison. THIS lady can sing R&B! Anita has a deep, soulful voice that Badu could only dream of having. Mr. Moon’s caption for the article is “Sultry Upscale Soul.” And yes, it is. Moon lists “Sweet Love” (the opening track) and “Caught Up In the Rapture” as his key tracks. I would include “Watch Your Step,” as it was one of my favorites. He even compares her to Billie Holiday and Roberta Flack. Here’s a youtube clip of a live performance of “Watch Your Step.”

Pretty amazing, if you ask me.

The most recent recording I listened to from this list was by a guy I’d never heard of before, named Chet Baker. The album listed is “Let’s Get Lost: The Best of Chet Baker Sings.” Now, I’m still not sure I listened to the right recording. According to Moon’s article, captioned “Getting Lost, in a Mist, with the Master,” the recording was released in 1989 on Pacific Jazz/Capitol records. However, I couldn’t find that particular recording in Rhapsody. I did find, however, a recording called “The Best of Chet Baker Sings,” released in in 1956 on Blue Note. Moon says that all of the recordings were made in the fifties, “before heroin ravaged his body and blunted the little-boy-blue purity of his voice.” All of the key tracks were on the recording that I listened to, so I’m thinking that, perhaps the 1989 version is a re-issue of the 1956 one. I’m going to count it, anyway. The key tracks are “My Funny Valentine,” “My Ideal,” “But Not for Me,” “I Remember You,” and “You Don’t Know What Love Is.” This is some very smooth jazz singing. I have to say I felt very, um, mellow, during the entire time I was listening. It certainly made my work day less stressful, that’s for sure. I liked the opening track, “The Thrill Is Gone” (not the same “Thrill” as BB King). He plays trumpet, as well, also very well. Of course, “My Funny Valentine,” is a gorgeous track. Chet Baker died in 1988. Here is a youtube clip of “The Thrill Is Gone.”

That’s it for this issue.

TTFN, y’all!


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